Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln Birthplace NHP maintains that Abraham Lincoln was born on the Sinking Spring Farm in Kentucky, February 12, 1809. What proof do we have to offer visitors who challenge this claim?

Below is a direct quote from Abraham Lincoln written in 1859 while preparing to run for president in the 1860 election. “I was born February 12, 1809, in Hardin County, Kentucky. My parents were both born in Virginia, of undistinguished families – second families, I should say.”[1] …at a point within the now County of Larue, a mile or a mile and a half from where Hodgen’s Mill now is. My parents being dead, and my own memory not serving, I know no means of identifying the precise locality. It was on the Nolin.[2]

There is legal documentation that the Lincoln family was living on the Sinking Spring Farm in 1809. “In December 1808, Thomas Lincoln, the father of Abraham, received from one Isaac Bush an assignment of a parcel of land in central Kentucky, on the “waters of the South Fork of Nolin, containing three hundred acres beginning at or near a spring called the Sinking Spring …. On this land, somewhere in the vicinity of a knoll by the Sinking Spring, he built a rough cabin in which his son Abraham was born, in February of the following year.”[3] Abraham Lincoln Birthplace NHS has the Lincoln family bible which list Lincoln’s birth to Thomas and Nancy Lincoln, February 12, 1809.

Dennis Hanks, Lincoln’s cousin, who lived within walking distance of the cabin on Sinking Spring Farm, describes visiting Nancy Hanks and her new baby the morning after Lincoln was born, “Nancy was layin’ thar in a pole bed lookin’ purty happy. Tom’d built up a good fire and throwed a b’ar skin over the kivers to keep ‘em warm.”[4]

Was Abraham Lincoln an only child?

No. Abraham had an older sister, Sarah who was two years and two days older than Abraham. [5]She was born February 10, 1807, in Elizabethtown, Kentucky. She died on January 20, 1828, in Spencer County, Indiana while giving birth to her first child. The child also died. Sarah, her child and husband, Aaron Grigsby are buried in the Little Pigeon Creek Baptist Church cemetery in what is now Abraham Lincoln State Park in southern Indiana.

In addition to his sister Sarah, Abraham had a brother born while the family was living at Knob Creek between 1811 and 1816. No one knows when the child was born or when he died. The child was named Thomas after his father. Young Thomas was buried in the RedmonCemetery.


Thomas Lincoln purchased the land and moved his family to the Sinking Spring Farm in December 1808. The family lived on the farm for about 2½ years until 1811. The move was made necessary after a legal dispute centering on the land patent. Richard Mather held a claim on the farm and refused to take money that Thomas Lincoln offered to settle the claim. Mather wanted the land back and filed a lawsuit against
Lincoln and others to reclaim the land in 1811. Because of the legal problem, Thomas would rent 30 acres from George Lindsey at Knob Creek and move the family there in 1811. They would remain at Knob Creek until 1816.

What was the extent of Abraham Lincoln’s education?

At age fifteen in 1824, Abraham Lincoln’s formal education was complete. [6]The total terms he spent in the schoolhouse did not add up to one year. His formal education began in Kentucky near the Knob Creek farm. At age six Lincoln studied under Zachariah Riney, and it is likely that spelling was the only subject taught. [7] The next term Lincoln studied under Caleb Hazel and the subjects were expanded to include reading, and writing. After the family moved to Indiana in 1816 it seems that Abraham was surpassing his parents, Thomas and Nancy, in the ability to read and write. He attended three more terms in Indiana, and by fifteen frequently read and wrote letters for his neighbors in the Pigeon Creek community.

His time in school only gave him the abilities he required to further his own education; he avidly sought out books on grammar, history, mathematics, elocution, and poetry throughout his youth. In 1834 his election to the Illinois state legislature placed Lincoln on the path to his future career in law. As he did with every other subject, Lincoln began intensely studying law books on his own.[8]

Even as President during the Civil War Lincoln continued his tradition of self-education. In January of 1862, with the war going poorly and almost no Union victories to speak of, Abraham Lincoln checked out Elements of Military Art and Science from the Library of Congress to better his understanding of military campaigns.[9]

Both his mother Nancy Hanks Lincoln, and his stepmother Sarah Bush Johnston Lincoln were barely literate so neither directly participated in his education. However, both played very important roles in encouraging his studies. Both oversaw his attendance at schools in Kentucky and Indiana. Sarah Bush Johnston Lincoln did own a few books that young Abraham Lincoln became much attached to; these included a biography of George Washington, and a book on elocution with passages of Shakespeare. However, it would seem that Abraham was probably influenced more by his birth mother. He once made the statement that everything he was or ever would be he owed to his angel mother. Since his stepmother was alive at the time he must have been referring to his birth mother who died when he was only 9 ½ years old. Even the fact that she died when he was so young would tend to make one think that he held on to her memory.

What is this controversy regarding Nancy Hanks Lincoln, mother of Abraham Lincoln and what is the park’s position?

There is some thought that Abraham Lincoln’s mother was illegitimate. The National Park Service gives these details about Nancy Hanks. She was the only daughter of James and Lucy Shipley Hanks and was born February 5, 1784, on Hat Creek near Brookneal, Campbell County, Virginia. She married Thomas Lincoln, June 12, 1806, in the home of guardian Richard Berry of Beech Fork, Washington County, Kentucky.

Nancy Hanks died of milk sickness October 5, 1818, at age 34 in Little Pigeon Creek, Spencer County, Indiana. Nancy Hanks was buried in a private cemetery near her home. That cemetery is now included in the Abraham Lincoln Boyhood Home National Memorial.[10]

How was Abraham Lincoln perceived during and after his presidency?

Abraham Lincoln was vilified during his presidency. It’s doubtful he would have received his party’s nomination for a second term, let alone be reelected until Sherman started winning in the south during the later months of 1864. The worst riots in the nation’s history occurred in New York City during his presidency in response to his announcement of the Emancipation Proclamation followed by the draft lottery in July 1863.

Abraham Lincoln expanded the presidency by suspending the writ of habeas corpus which up to that time was considered to be a power granted only to Congress. He expanded the powers granted the presidency by the Constitution, when he relied on the powers (rights) granted by the Declaration of Independence when issuing the Emancipation Proclamation.

The memory of Abraham Lincoln has changed over time. He was blamed for many of the ills resulting from reconstruction, yet by the mid to late 1880s his image had been sanitized and was approaching deification. A few years later, his status was elevated to among the top echelon of Presidents and memorials began being built in his honor. He is one of four Presidents on Mount Rushmore. He continues to serve as an example for civil liberties and as a role model to those seeking humanitarian justice—a legacy that remains vibrant today and may be the most sincere form of remembrance.[11]

What were the major influences of Lincoln’s Kentucky years on his later policies and politics: his frontier life, slavery in Kentucky, and his father’s struggle with land titles?

The Kentucky years of Abraham Lincoln’s life established the foundation of the young boy who rose to become the 16th President of the United States. While living at the Knob Creek Farm, Lincoln was under the influence of religious parents that were hardworking and respected locally. His parents participated in the Baptist Church and adhered to its strict disciplines.[12] The Lincolns belonged to a branch of the Baptist Church, which had long been anti-slavery and had separated from the Baptist Church due to the issue of slavery.[13] Thus at an early age, Lincoln was under anti-slavery influences which centered in his church and home.[14] Thomas Lincoln’s opposition to slavery was not only due to religious reasons, but also based in simple economics as he feared competing with slave labor.[15]

The difficulties of Thomas Lincoln to obtain clear title to lands the family resided on in Kentucky also influenced his young son.[16] These difficulties were due to the lack of a proper government survey of Kentucky, which had been settled randomly due to the issuance of land patents.[17] Years later, Abraham Lincoln stated that his father left Kentucky “partly on account of slavery, but chiefly on account of the difficulty in land titles in Kentucky.”[18]

These issues helped to form the social and moral foundations of a young Abraham Lincoln. He struggled with the ideals put forth by the Declaration of Independence as the issue of slavery in the South contradicted them. Lincoln’s morals led him to believe that slavery in the South was both “morally and economically unjust.”[19] These thoughts remained a constant throughout his life and influenced his governmental policies and politics.

Why did Lincoln issue the Emancipation Proclamation when he did?

The Emancipation Proclamation was issued by President Lincoln as a military measure. In a private meeting with Secretary of State William Seward and Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles on July 13, 1862, Lincoln announced his intention to issue an emancipation proclamation calling it “a military necessity, absolutely essential to the preservation of the Union.”[20] Lincoln stated, “We must free the slaves or be ourselves subdued. The slaves are undeniably an element of strength to those who have their service, and we must decide whether that element should be with us or against us. Decisive and extensive measures must be adopted. The administration must set an example and strike at the heart of the rebellion.”[21]

The Emancipation Proclamation was designed to deprive the Confederacy of slave labor and bring additional men into the Union Army.[22] As a military measure, President Lincoln offered the slaves freedom, and he firmly insisted, “The promise being made, must be kept.” Opponents of the Emancipation Proclamation condemned it as unconstitutional and many stated they would not fight to free Negroes. To this Lincoln replied, “Fight you, then, exclusively to save the Union.”[23]

How is Lincoln viewed by historians today, in terms of how effective a president he was and how important was his presidency?

Historian, Geoffrey Perret believes Lincoln created the modern presidency – “he created the role of commander in chief.” Doris Kearns Goodwin writes of Lincoln’s political genius. She believes that Lincoln’s personal qualities enabled him to form friendships with those who opposed him, escape hostilities by facing with honesty mistakes made by either himself or his subordinates, and to share credit for success with ease.[24]

Inheriting a desperate national crisis after President Buchanan’s ineffective administration, Lincoln is credited with saving the Union and freeing the slaves. He revolutionized presidential power during the Civil War and was often seen as a radical president.

Lincoln’s presidency is important today as it provides parallels and comparisons to issues faced by our current president; presidential use of constitutionality, civil liberties, executive privilege, and nationhood. These issues debated today are as relevant as they have ever been.[25]

How did Lincoln’s feelings about slavery evolve during his presidency?

Although it is not possible to know Lincoln’s feelings, there is evidence of his internal struggle with the issue of slavery and emancipation.

Lincoln-Douglas debates, August – October, 1858. Lincoln declares that he has no intention of interfering with slavery in states where it already exists, he felt there was a physical difference between whites and blacks, but held that there was no reason why the negro was not entitled to all the natural rights enumerated in the Declaration of Independence – “he has the right to eat the bread that his hand has earned.” – Ottawa, 1858*

From the surrender of Fort Sumter Lincoln was urged to end slavery – he declared, “We didn’t go into war to put down slavery, but to put the flag back.” Shortly after this he devised a plan to pay Delaware, Maryland, Kentucky, and Missouri $500 for every slave and free them in batches. By March 1862, Lincoln called upon Congress to adopt a program of emancipation compensation. He also supported colonization for a short period fearing that blacks and whites could not live in harmony. By 1862, he wrote to Horace Greeley who demanded in his newspaper that Lincoln free the slaves, “If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves, I would do it, and if I could save it freeing some and leaving others alone,… I have here stated my purpose according to my view of official duty, and I intend no modification of my oft-expressed personal wish that all men, everywhere, could be free.” Following the battle of Antietam, Lincoln, told his Cabinet that he had promised God that he would free the slaves if General Lee should be driven back from Pennsylvania. Lincoln seemed to feel that freeing the slaves was God’s will. The Emancipation Proclamation was issued January 1, 1863.[26]

Lincoln changed much during his presidency – he even changed his position on issues – how might a politician be viewed today who did the same?

“I claim not to have controlled events, but confess plainly that events have controlled me,” said Lincoln to Albert G. Hodges, April 4, 1864. Lincoln had a pragmatic approach, he stated, “My policy is to have no policy,” if one solution did not work he was ready to try another. Lincoln changed his position on colonization and slavery, influenced by Joshua Giddings, Horace Mann, and Frederick Douglass. He changed his mind about some of his generals during the Civil War.

The newspapers, magazines, and the Internet are full of criticism for politicians who seem to “flip flop” on issues. Presidential and governors’ elections are full of condemnation from the public when a candidate changes or alters their position on issues. Candidates today are expected to enter the public arena with their policies and positions fully formed and supported by their party’s platform. There is little room to grow today in the public eye when a candidate or after being elected to public office. This question posses an impossible analogy to make because media coverage has changed dramatically since Lincoln’s day. Now everything anyone says can be distributed world-wide instantly which, of course was not true in Lincoln’s time. [27]

When did Thomas Lincoln and Nancy Hanks Lincoln arrive in this part of Kentucky?

January 6, 1778

Thomas Lincoln, Abraham Lincoln's father, was born January 6, 1778, to Bathsheba and Abraham Lincoln. Thomas, who was born in Rockingham County, Virginia, was the 4th of 5 children born to the couple. His older siblings were Mordecai, Josiah, and Mary. Thomas had a younger sister named Nancy. During the early 1780s the family moved to Jefferson County in Kentucky. Thomas' father, Abraham, was killed in an attack by Native Americans in May 1786. In 1795 Thomas was listed by name in the Washington County tax lists as a white male between the ages of 16 and 21. In c. 1797 Thomas spent a year working as a hired hand for his Uncle Isaac on the Watauga River in Tennessee.

February 2, 1784

Nancy Hanks Lincoln, birth mother of Abraham Lincoln, was born in Hampshire County, (West) Virginia. The birth occurred in a cabin along Mike's Run at the foot of New Creek Mountain in what is now Mineral County, West Virginia. Nancy died of milk sickness – snake root poising October 5, 1818

1802

Thomas moved to Hardin County, Kentucky 1802, and purchased a 238 acre farm the next year, (Mill Creek Farm).

June 1806

Thomas married Nancy Hanks. The couple had three children: Sarah, Abraham, and Thomas (who died in infancy).

February 10, 1807

Sarah Lincoln Grigsby, first child of Thomas and Nancy Hanks Lincoln was born. Married August 2, 1826, to Aaron Grigsby in Spencer County, Indiana. Died January 20, 1828, week short of her 21st birthday. Death due to complications of childbirth. Infant buried in same grave at Pigeon Church Cemetery, Indiana.

December 1808

Thomas, Nancy, and Sarah moved to the Sinking Spring Farm, in what was then Hardin County, now LaRue County, Kentucky. Thomas gave $200 for 348 acres of stony ground on the south fork of Nolin Creek. The farm's name came from a spring on the property which emerged from a deep cave. The spring, called Sinking Spring, may be seen by visitors today on their visit to the site.

February 12, 1809

Abraham Lincoln was born on the Sinking Spring Farm in a one room log cabin

1811

The Lincolns moved to the Knob Creek Farm when a land claim dispute over Sinking Spring Farm caused the family to be evicted. During the time they lived on this farm a third son, Thomas was born but died in infancy.

1816

The Lincolns moved to Spencer County Indiana.

After his first wife, Nancy Hanks Lincoln, died in 1818, Thomas would return to Elizabethtown, Kentucky and marry Sarah Bush Johnston, a widow with three children on December 2, 1819. Sarah, or Sally as many called her, would provide a good home and be caring mother for Abraham and Sarah.

Thomas Lincoln died January 17, 1851, near Farmington, Coles County, Illinois at age 75. His tombstone gives the date January 15, 1851. Buried in Shiloh Cemetery near Janesville, Illinois.

The Symbolic Cabin enshrined in the Memorial Building

Is the cabin enshrined within the Memorial Building the original Lincoln family cabin?

No. The Lincoln Farm Association, the State of Kentucky, and the War Department all believed the cabin within the Memorial Building was the actual birthplace of Lincoln. It was only during the late 1940s and early 1950s after the cabin had passed to the National Park Service (in 1933) that questions about the cabin authenticity came to light. The resulting studies by the National Park Service determined that the cabin was not the original cabin. It is a “symbolic cabin” on the original land.

In 2004, a dendrochronologist from the University of Tennessee was asked to conduct a research on the authenticity of the cabin by aging the logs. This was accomplished by core sampling the oldest logs. The sampling determined that the oldest log in the cabin dates to 1848. This indicates that the cabin enshrined in the Memorial was constructed later than 1848. Dwight Pitcaithley, Historian for the National Park Service was on site to represent the Park Service. This core sampling confirms that the cabin is not Lincoln’s cabin.[28]

Did the cabin have a loft?

It is not documented whether the symbolic cabin had a loft or not. Most cabins had a loft in them for sleeping and storage.[29]

Where in the cabin did the children sleep?

Most cabins had a loft in them for sleeping and storage which could be reached by either wooden pegs or ladder. Trundle beds were designed to fit under a pole bed, which may have been used for a baby or small child to sleep in.

Why was the cabin reduced in size when it was enshrined within the Memorial Building? Why is the cabin so tall?

When the cabin was first installed within the Memorial Building in 1911, it was determined by the architect, John Russell Pope, that it was too large for the interior of the building. Pope then proceeded to reduce the size of the cabin four feet in width and one foot in length. Thus the cabin was reduced from 16 x 18 feet to 12 X 17 feet. In the process of reducing the length of the logs, the original notches were removed. The new notches were not cut as deeply as the originals so while the exact number of logs are in the cabin as were there in 1895, they do not nestle into one another as they did in 1895. In addition, there is an increased perception of height because the cabin is narrower that in 1895.[30]

When settlers took the craft of log construction with them onto the frontier, they successfully adapted it to regional materials, climates, and terrains.[31]

Where did the original cabin set?

Located on a rise above “Sinking Spring”. It was here on February 12, 1809, Abraham Lincoln was born in a one room cabin.[32]

On this land, somewhere in the vicinity of a knoll by the Sinking Spring, he built a rough cabin in which his son Abraham was born, in February of the following year.[33]

How long did it take to build a log cabin?

This is a difficult question to answer because the time required to build a log cabin would depend on a wide variety of factors and/or circumstances, such as how large the cabin might be, how much and what type of help you had, type and condition of tools you had to work with, location of cabin, type of trees available, and type of notches to be used, etc.

When a family moved to a new area they wanted to get their cabin (shelter) built as soon as possible so they would have protection form the elements, wild animals, etc. This being the case they would most likely build a small cabin using round logs with only the bark removed and they would probably use the saddle (round) notch because it was easier and faster to make.

Later, if the family decided to make this their permanent home they would either build a new, larger cabin (house) with squared logs or they might just add rooms to their existing cabin. More than one “log cabin” has been found when tearing down very old houses.

[34]In the early 19th century log cabins in Kentucky were built 16 x 18 feet with one

room, one door, one window, a fireplace, and usually a loft for storage and a place for the children to sleep. The floor was dirt. So, to get back to the original question, “How long did it take to build a log cabin?” No one knows except the people who built them. When the Lincoln family moved to Indiana in 1816, Thomas went first to buy land and build a temporary shelter for the family to live in until the cabin was constructed. [35]In the book Lincoln’s Youth, Indiana Years 1816 – 1830, Warren tell of a cabin being built, with the help of neighbors, in four (4) days.

Short chimneys were sometimes built because they do not draw well, thus most of the heat from the fire remains in the cabin. Also, because there is little or no draw, fireplaces with short chimneys burn less wood. The type of chimney on the symbolic cabin is called a “Log and Plank” or "Stick and Mud" chimney with a “drop off” feature. A “drop off” chimney’s top section, from the planks up is not connected to the side of the cabin and can, in case of fire, be made to fall away from the cabin. This prevents the entire cabin from catching fire.

The chimney was usually the last component of a cabin to be constructed. A hole was cut out of one end of the cabin, then a mud and stick chimney was constructed on the outside. The stone and mortar fireplace was built inside the cabin. Most fireplaces were built with a mantle over them. The mantle was a catchall for the family and also served as a resting place for candles.

Kettles were held over the fire hanging from trammels, which were held by strong poles. A most essential utensil was a long handle pan used for cooking meat, held on the fire by hand. The best item for baking was a flat-bottomed kettle with a tight-fitting lid known as a Dutch oven. The bread would bake quickly with hot coals over and under this admirable invention.

Memorial Building

Was the Memorial Building inspired by the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D. C.?

No. The Memorial Building erected on the Sinking Spring Farm was not inspired by, designed after, or connected to the Lincoln National Memorial in Washington, D.C.

The Lincoln National Memorial in Washington D. C. was constructed between February 12, 1914, and early 1922. The building was dedicated May 30, 1922. Henry Bacon was selected as the architect and Daniel Chester French was selected as the sculptor.[36]

The Memorial Building was constructed between 1909 and 1911.[37]

In November, 1907, the Norcross Brothers Company of Louisville, Kentucky was selected as the primary contractor and began construction of the Memorial.

The Lincoln Farm Association hoped to finish and dedicate the Memorial on February 12, 1909, the centennial of Lincoln’s birth but because of a lack of funds, the building was not finished until 1911.

President Theodore Roosevelt laid the cornerstone on Lincoln 100th birthday, February 12, 1909. President William H. Taft attended the dedication ceremonies on November 9, 1911.

The Memorial is constructed of pink granite and marble. The exterior “Stony Pink Granite” was provided by the Dodd's Granite Company of Milford Massachusetts. The interior marble was quarried in Tennessee.

The cost of the Memorial was $250,000.

What was the Lincoln Farm Association?

The Lincoln Farm Association (a nonprofit association of prominent Americans) was incorporated April 18, 1906, for the purpose of honoring and perpetuating the memory of Abraham Lincoln, the taking and holding of 110 acres of his birthplace farm, and the development and maintenance of the same.[38]

When and why was the park established?

The Birthplace of Abraham Lincoln became a National Park under the Department of War, July 17, 1916.

The National Park Service was not established until August 25, 1916.

The park was transferred to the National Park Service in 1933.

On July 17, 1916 an act of Congress (39 STAT. 385) authorized the United States to accept as a gift from the Lincoln Farm Association which included “ the land near the town of Hodgenville, County of Larue, State of Kentucky, embracing the homestead of Abraham Lincoln and the log cabin in which he was born.” It was stated that the land described, together with the buildings and appurtenances thereon, shall be forever dedicated to the purpose of a national park or reservation, the United States of America agreeing to protect and preserve the said lands, buildings and appurtenances, especially the log cabin in which Abraham Lincoln was born and the Memorial enclosing the same.[39]

In the following years, the United States authorized more national parks and monuments, most of them in the Western part of the country. These were also administered by the Department of Interior. Concurrently, other monuments, natural and historical areas were administered by the War Department and the Forest Service (Department of Agriculture). At the time there was no single agency which provided unified management of the varied federal parks.

President Woodrow Wilson signed the act creating the National Park Service on August 25, 1916. This newly created federal bureau in the Department of Interior was responsible for protecting the 35 national parks and monuments and those to be later established.

An Executive Order in 1933 transferred 56 national monuments and military sites from the Forest Service and the War Department to the National Park System.[40]

What are some of the best books or authors on Abraham Lincoln that you would recommend?

Lincoln by David Herbert Donald

Why read this book? It is a very thorough overview of Lincoln’s entire life. It’s not an easy read, but it is very useful as a resource.

Herndon’s Informants: Letters, Interviews, and Statements about Abraham Lincoln, Edited by Douglas L. Wilson and Rodney O. Davis.

Why read this book? William Herndon conducted interviews and solicited letters from many of the people who knew Lincoln personally. If you are aware of Herndon’s bias toward Mary Todd Lincoln and his pressing financial needs which color his observations, this exhaustive collection provides one of the most complete collections of information about Lincoln as remembered by the people who knew him.

With Malice None: A Life of Abraham Lincoln, by Stephen B. Oates.

Why read this book? This is an attempt to show Lincoln as a human instead of as a martyr who has been deified. Oates has an accessible writing style that manages to be entertaining while enlightening.

A Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin

Why read this book? This is a unique approach to Lincoln the politician. If people want to know about Lincoln and his remarkable skill as a politician, I recommend this book. Although the book is long, the prose reads much like a novel.

CHILDREN’S BOOKS

If You Grew Up With Abraham Lincoln, by Ann McGovern, Illustrated by George Ulrich

Why read this book? This book is suitable for upper level elementary to junior high school students. The author chronicles Abraham Lincoln’s journey from the Sinking Spring Farm, to the Knob Creek Farm, then on to Indiana, New Salem, Springfield, and finally, the White House. Her format of posing questions, then answering them is an effective way for readers to learn a great deal about Abraham Lincoln’s childhood, teenage years, and adult life.

Discover Abraham Lincoln, by Patricia A. Pingry, Illustrated by Stephanie McFetridge Britt

Why read this book? This book is suitable for young readers because it uses short sentences, large print, and illustrations on almost every page. It doesn’t devote much time to Lincoln’s Kentucky years, but the vocabulary list in the front of the book is commendable.

Meet Abraham Lincoln, by Patricia A. Pingry, Illustrated by Stephanie McFetridge Britt

Why read this book? This is a wonderful introductory book for pre-school children and beginning readers. The book is filled with colorful illustrations and easy to understand text.

Who was Jefferson Davis and where was he born?

Jefferson Davis was born in Fairview, Kentucky-- a small town 9 miles east of Hopkinsville. Fairview, Kentucky is approximately 100 miles southwest from Abraham Lincoln’s birthplace. He was born on June 3, 1808, less than a year earlier than Abraham Lincoln.

Both men were president at the same time: Jefferson Davis for the Confederate States of America and Abraham Lincoln for the United States of America.

Jefferson Davis can serve as a good example of the difficult choices southerners who were loyal members of the Union faced when the South succeeded. Jefferson Davis was a West Point graduate, served in the United States Congress as a representative of the state of Mississippi, was a member of the Senate Military Affairs Committee, and served as Secretary of War during the Franklin Pierce administration. Here is a man who was a prominent elected official of the United States, yet left the service of his country to serve in the Confederate government.[41]

What events took place in Kentucky, Hodgenville, and at the Birthplace during the sesquicentennial of Lincoln’s birth?

On September 2, 1957, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the bill establishing the Lincoln Sesquicentennial Commission. The Commission worked in cooperation with various government agencies and states in preparations for the celebration of the 150th anniversary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln. A special service was held at the Washington Cathedral in Washington D.C. on Sunday, January 11, 1959, to launch the “Year of Lincoln.”[42] Various government agencies, including the Library of Congress and the National Archives, established Lincoln Sesquicentennial Exhibitions that included letters, documents, photographs, and other Lincoln memorabilia. The Commission also authorized the production of busts of Lincoln by noted sculptors Robert Berks and Avard Fairbanks to be unveiled at Ford’s Theater, of which Berks’ bust, “Gettysburg Lincoln,” became the portrait of the Lincoln Sesquicentennial and is currently on display in the Visitor Center of Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Park.[43]

The Lincoln Sesquicentennial Commission also authorized the redesigning of the Lincoln penny to display the Lincoln Memorial on the reverse side and the issuance of a one cent Sesquicentennial Lincoln Stamp.[44]

At the state level, the state of Kentucky produced little activity in conjunction with the Lincoln Sesquicentennial. Locally in Hodgenville, the Post Office was designated as the first day sale site of the new Lincoln one cent stamp.[45] On Lincoln’s 150th birthday, a parade with four local school bands and the color guard from Fort Knox led a procession of about 2,000 people from downtown Hodgenville to Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Site. The keynote speakers at the Birthplace were George M. Moore, Executive Assistant to the Postmaster General and William H. Townsend, Chairman of the Kentucky Lincoln Sesquicentennial Commission, who stood in for an absent Governor A.B. Chandler.[46]

Preparations for the Lincoln Bicentennial

How are the three states of Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky working together to tell the entire story of Lincoln’s life?

A Tri-State Commission has been formed so that the three states can work together with the goal of inspiring and educating the public about the life and legacy of Abraham Lincoln. Committees have been formed to provide teachers, students, and the public with opportunities to learn about Abraham Lincoln by coordinating workshops, guest speakers, symposia, encouraging educational programming and disseminating cross-curricular educational resources.

A Tri-State interpreter’s training workshop that will provide historians from the Organization of American Historian to all three states, a Tri-State teacher’s workshop, and a Tri-State handbook will all be available for visitors.

Kentucky Years - (1809- 1816) Birthplace of Abraham Lincoln and where his family lived for 2 ½ years before moving ten miles northeast to the Knob Creek farm. Lincoln is quoted as remembering, “My earliest recollections however, are of the Knob Creek place.” He left Kentucky at the age 7.

Indiana Years – (1816-1830) Lincoln’s Boyhood Years – He spent 14 years in Indiana.

Known as a Rail-splitter

Work as a Ferryman – Lincoln earned his first dollar as a young man, age 16 in 1827 by ferrying passengers across the mouth of Anderson Creek in Indiana to steamers on the Ohio River.

Illinois Years – (1830 - 1860) Lincoln’s Adult Years – He spent 30 years in Illinois.

1829 Store Clerk – New Salem

1832 Served as Captain of Black Hawk War

1833 Postmaster at New Salem then Surveyor

1834 Elected IllinoisState Legislature
1837 Became a Lawyer
1846 Served as Whig Congressman from Illinois
1854 Ran for Senate – Lost
1858 Won National acclaim for the Lincoln –Douglass Debates in his unsuccessful attempt to defeat Stephen A. Douglas for the Senate

Washington D.C.Years

1860 Elected President of United States
!861-1865 Led the nation through the Civil War
1864 Re-elected as President
1865 April 14, shot at Ford's Theater by John Wilkes Booth
Died the next morning, April 15, 1865
Buried at the Oak RidgeCemetery in Springfield, Illinois



[1] Written biography supplied by Lincoln in 1859 – information used in his presidential candidacy, John Locke Scripps, Life of Abraham Lincoln, Greenwood Press, 1968, 26-27.

[2] Warren, Lewis, Lincoln’s Parentage and Childhood, The Century Co., 1926, 75

[3] Administrative History of Abraham Lincoln Birthplace NHS Gloria Peterson - September 20, 1968, 2

[4] Warren, Lewis A., 104

[5] Warren, Louis Austin, Lincoln’s Youth Indiana Years, 1816 – 1830, 173

[6] Donald, David Herbert. Lincoln. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1995.

[7] Warren, Louis A. IndianaYears, 1816- 1830. New York: Appleton, Century, Crofts Inc., 1959.

[8] Donald, David Herbert. Lincoln. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1995.

[9] Warren, Louis A. IndianaYears, 1816- 1830. New York: Appleton, Century, Crofts Inc., 1959.

[10] The Hanks Women “Lucy and Nancy”, by Susan Microbe, 6

[11] Article I of the Constitution - Emancipation Proclamation - Declaration of Independence

Lincoln and the Constitution, Frank J. Williams, OAH Magazine of History, Vo. 21, Num. 1, 5

[12] Tarbell, Ida M. In the Footsteps of the Lincolns. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1924, 108.

[13] Ibid, 109.

[14] Ibid, 110.

[15] Donald, David Herbert. Lincoln. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1995, 24.

[16] Tarbell, 111.

[17] Donald, 24.

[18] Ibid, 24.

[19] Carwardine, Richard. Lincoln: A Life of Purpose and Power. New York: Vintage Books, 2003, 3 – 4.

[20] McPherson, James M. Battle Cry of Freedom. New York: Oxford University Press, 1988, 504.

[21] Ibid, 504.

[22] Abraham Lincoln Papers, Library of Congress, General Correspondence Series 2.

[23] Donald, David Herbert. Lincoln. New York: Simon & Schuster Paperbacks, 1995, 456.

[24] Team of Rivals,” Doris Kearns Goodwin

[25] Lincoln and the Constitution, by Frank J. Williams, OAH Magazine of History, vol. 21, no. 1, 1/2007.

[26] Abraham Lincoln: A Documentary Portrait Through His Speeches and Writings, edited by Don E. Fehrenbacher – section 29, “The Negro Question.” Lincoln’s War, Geoffrey Perret

[27] Lincoln” David Herbert Donald, Simon & Schuster, 1995

[28] “Abraham Lincoln’s Birthplace Cabin: The Making of an American Icon,” Dwight Pitcaithley, from Myth, Memory, and the Making of the American Landscape, edited by Paul A. Shackel, University of Florida Press, 2001.

[29] The American Backwoods Frontier, Terry G. Jordan & Matti Kaups, (Article on Log Cabin Construction)

[30] Pitcaithley

[31] Preservation & Repair of Historic Log Buildings, Bruce D. Bomberger, 4

[32] Abraham Lincoln Birthplace NHS – Cultural Landscape Report, Prepared by: Lucy Lawliss and Susan Hitchcock - 2004, 3

[33] Administrative History of Abraham Lincoln Birthplace NHS, Gloria Peterson, September 20, 1968, 2

[34] Jordan, Terry G. & Kaups, Matti, The American Backwoods Frontier, 1

[35] Warren, Louis Austin, Lincoln’s Youth, Indiana Years 1816 – 1830, 21 & 22

[36] Lincoln Memorial Official National Park Service Hand Book 129, US Department of Interior, Washington, DC 1986, 40 – 42.

An Administrative History of Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Site, September 20, 1968, Gloria Peterson, 23 & 31.

[37] Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Site, Abraham Lincoln Birthplace Memorial

Building Historic Structures Report, Cultural Resources Southeast Region, 2001; 9, 11, 138.

[38] Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Site, Abraham Lincoln Birthplace Memorial

Building Historic Structures Report, Cultural Resources Southeast Region, 2001, 9.

[39] Cultural Landscape Report, Abraham Lincoln Birthplace NHS, Cultural Resources, Southeast Region,2004, 2.

[40] http:/www.nps.gov/aboutus/history.htm

[41] The Three KentuckyPresidents: Lincoln, Taylor, Davis, by Holman Hamilton, University Press of Kentucky. Holman Hamilton was professor emeritus of History at the University of Kentucky when this book was published.

[42] Abraham Lincoln Sesquicentennial, 1959 – 1960: Final Report, Washington D.C., 1960.

[43]www.fairbanksartbooks.com/Lincoln sculpture.html.

[44] Abraham Lincoln Sesquicentennial, 1959 – 1960: Final Report, Washington D.C., 1960, p. 61 – 63.

[45] Herald News, Hodgenville, Kentucky, January 15, 1959.

[46] The Louisville Courier-Journal, Louisville, Kentucky, Vol. 209, No. 44, February 13, 1959, p. 1.

Last updated: April 14, 2015

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